My approach to reviews is to judge restaurants on other, similar type/caliber restaurants. Braise touts itself as high end, fine dining and farm to table. Given these qualifications and despite the fact that everyone else seems to be totally in love with this place, I think an average rating is exceedingly benevolent.
We called for a same day reservation based on the recommendation of a local and were indeed able to get a table for a late seating. The restaurant was jam packed and so insanely loud that it was downright headache inducing. The tables were either inordinately close together or of the 'communal dining' type--which made the insane noise level a blessing as in either case you were sitting right on top of strangers.
There were staff crawling all over the place and a couple of single-task staff (two hostesses', a guy only grilling pre-made bread, a barista.) Our server was nice enough, but it took forever to get anything--and that appeared to be the case throughout the restaurant, despite large numbers of staff just standing around. I have been to restaurants with just as many patrons, half the staff, and incredible service. It was downright strange.
And then the food was completely uninspired, lacking taste and creative only in name. We shared two appetizers--steamed pork buns and roasted asparagus on toasted brioche with pancetta. The pork buns tasted like they cracked open a can of refrigerator rolls, steamed them and added some left over pork and a completely nondescript sauce on top. The asparagus was over cooked yet fat and woody. The brioche was soggy and just nasty. The pancetta was somehow completely forgettable, with no taste whatsoever.
Same story with one of the two entrees. The bison loin with ramp and lentil salad was a total disappointment. The bison had no seasoning (or taste!) whatsoever, and was served over a freezing cold, sloppy lentil salad that tasted like nothing but citrus. The other entree--the roasted chicken with ramp risotto was,thankfully, divine.
On the plus side, they had several very affordable, delicious wines and the decaf coffee was out of this world!
I understand that perhaps the hype about this restaurant is more about the location--an area with a serious lack of dining options--but were I local to the area I'd get in my car and drive to a restaurant with food as inspired in taste as the menu sounds and a staff who were interested in meeting my needs rather than socializing.
Despite the few bright spots in our experience overall it was pretty much a wasted trip. I would not return, and would never recommend it.
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